A distribution deal with Disney made this charming feature-length animation (1989) the first big U.S. success for Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli. The title character, a 13-year-old witch, must spend a year on her own to find herself, and her pilgrimage to a beautifully detailed northern European town brings new friends and challenges. The characters are gently and warmly rendered, and a climactic action sequence involving an unmoored dirigible hints at the stately grandiosity of Miyazaki's masterpiece Howl's Moving Castle (2004). The English-dubbed version released by Disney features Kirsten Dunst as the young witch and Phil Hartman, in his last voice performance, as her wiseacre black cat, Jiji.
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Producer: Hayao Miyazaki, Morihisa Takagi, Yasuyoshi Tokuma and Mikihiko Tsuzuki
Cast: Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi, Keiko Toda, Mieko Nobusawa, Koichi Miura, Haruko Kato, Hiroko Seki, Yuriko Fuchizaki, Koichi Yamadera, Kikuko Inoue, Yûko Kobayashi, Mika Doi, Takaya Hashi and Chika Sakamoto